Monthly Archives November 2014

An attractive government city: Kuala Lumpur’s Putrajaya

It’s hard to imagine government buildings being interesting but Malaysia’s administrative centre at Putrajaya about 30 minutes outside Kuala Lumpur certainly is proof to the contrary. Putrajaya is a planned city and government shifted there in 1999 after downtown KL became too crowded. However Kuala Lumpur is still Malaysia’s capital. It is home to the King and Parliament, as well as being the country’s commercial and financial centre. In Putrajaya every government agency makes a solid statement with its own building with its own style. No expense has been spared in this strenuous assertion of Malaysian prosperity and prestige as a nation. In Sanskrit, “putra” means “prince” or “male child”, and “jaya” means “success” or “victory”. The architectural parallels with foreign capitals are unmistakeable. The centrepiece is the seven kilometre boulevard leading to the palace like structure entirely devoted to the offices of the Prime Minister. At the other end of the boulevard is the convention centre designed to look like a space ship where the government hosts large international delegations. The grandeur of the architecture recalls Paris and Washington, with the
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Marche Francais gets extra points for olives

At Marché Français a diner can have endless fun with the French style café menu picking out what looks good and enjoying the sight of other dishes. I was with a group of seven which lunched there recently, in my case after a long absence. The best thing about the place is that it is as French as ever. Some customers struggle with the staff’s heavily accented English. Equally the staff may well have difficulty correcting deciphering customers’ requests. I have learned from experience not to use my rather fractured and garbled French to native French speakers. It only upsets and confuses them. I ordered a tarte provençale, the classic pastry tart with onions as a base, layered with sliced tomato with black olives mixed in. Or in my case just three little pieces. I casually mentioned this to the waitron, as she was clearing the table, as the chef had asked for feedback, and out of the kitchen came five black olives on a serving spoon to make up. A nice touch, nicer for being unexpected. A small crème
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